The roughly 12 classified documents found at the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence included materials described as background briefing memos that were prepared for Pence’s foreign trips, multiple sources told CNN.
One source said some of those classified documents were likely used to prepare Pence for foreign meetings while he was vice president and may have been overlooked during the packing process because they were tucked into old trip binders.
According to another source, the classified briefing materials would not have been visible unless the packers went through the binders page by page.
It is not unusual for presidents and vice presidents to be given travel briefing binders that include background memos on people they are meeting with in foreign countries. The sources who spoke to CNN said they sometimes include basic biographical information on foreign leaders, but sometimes also include more sensitive information.
The FBI is working with US intelligence agencies to assess the documents, a process which involves determining how recent the information is, its level of classification and potential risks of having classified material stored in an unauthorized location, according to a US official.
One source who was briefed on some of the classified documents told CNN that, based on what they were told, there was nothing particularly unusual in the papers, and described the classification markings as on the “lower level.” There was no mention of documents with SCI or SAP markings, two designations of some of the most sensitive classified material, the source said.
Top secret, the highest level of classification, can include a subset of documents known as SCI, or sensitive compartmented information, which is reserved for certain information derived from intelligence sources. Access to an SCI document can be even further restricted to a smaller group of people with specific security clearances.
Another category of sensitive information within either Top Secret or Secret classification is known as an SAP, or special access program, which requires additional safeguards. Not everyone with a Top Secret security clearance may have access to information in an SAP.
CNN reported earlier this month that the classified materials discovered at President Joe Biden’s former private office in Washington included US intelligence memos and briefing materials from Biden’s time as vice president covering Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom.
The materials found at Biden’s former office included some documents marked top secret with an SCI designation, CNN previously reported.
More than 300 classified documents have been discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, both in boxes Trump’s aides turned over to the National Archives and material later found by the FBI. The FBI’s August search included 18 documents marked top secret, 54 documents marked secret and 31 documents marked confidential, according to court filings.
One set of classified documents retrieved by the FBI in August included SCI markings, according to the property receipt released in court filings.